HP just announced its plans to discontinue operations on webOS devices, specifically the recently announced TouchPad and webOS phones. The future of webOS is uncertain as HP simply added that it would "continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward". This likely means that HP is looking to either license out the software or dump it in an outright sale. 

At this point I don't know that HP needs to be at the helm of the webOS project. Licensing it out could generate short term revenue from companies looking to hedge their bets against Google/Motorola, but unless HP takes on a development partner I don't know that there's much of a future for webOS under HP's command. 

That leaves an outright sale. It's clear that HP wants to focus its business on the high margin enterprise space where success is a bit more guaranteed and away from the ultra competitive, regularly shifting consumer and ultra mobile markets. I firmly believe HP could have made Palm/webOS successful, but it would have to be commited to the platform for the long haul (read: 5+ years).

Who could do better with webOS? ASUS, HTC, Intel and Samsung all come to mind. The three Android partners could be interested in giving the vertically integrated route a try. As I mentioned in my review, had the TouchPad been free of bugs and performance issues it would be the best tablet on the market. Any of the three Android partners could continue to fund webOS development and leverage their hardware expertise. Unfortunately neither ASUS, HTC nor Samsung has a particularly great history of software development so any of them would be a risk.

Intel is the wild card here. After Nokia's recent unveiling of its first MeeGo phone it became very clear just how much potential the OS had. With Nokia's departure from the MeeGo partnership that leaves Intel without a hardware partner and not a tremendous need for new software. That being said, Intel has clearly expressed interest in supporting an alternative mobile OS that's truly open. An Intel purchase of webOS would at least put the project in the hands of a company that has real vision and the ability to execute it. 

I feel for the folks who did the impossible at Palm and created webOS in the first place. As a company Palm just needed resources to finish its task. HP looked like the home that could provide just that but in the end it ended up being another unfortunate roadblock for what was one of the most promising OSes in the mobile space.

Unless the perfect acquisitor steps forward, I'm afraid webOS may end up being the latest casualty of consolidation in the smartphone/tablet space.

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  • steven75 - Friday, August 19, 2011 - link

    Or maybe Samsung shouldn't infringe so blatantly? Reply
  • medi01 - Saturday, August 20, 2011 - link

    Eh? What did they infringe? Rectangular box with rounded corners? Should they switch to triangular tablets, or did you see Apple's fake "comparison" pictures? If they dare to send fakes to court, I could imagine what's going on on fanboy sites.

    Samsung's devices are more expensive than Apple's. So why on earth would anyone who's after "apple" buy a more expensive Samsung (that looks quite different mind you), if everything he was after was to buy an apple's product?
    Reply
  • medi01 - Saturday, August 20, 2011 - link

    Yes. Poor Apple only patented innovative design of rectangular tablet with rounded corners (nothing anyone else could come up with, you know, rounded corners and rectangular shape is soo unusual...) and only faked evidence when suing Samsung:

    Tablet
    www.geohot. us/2011/08/apple-allegedly-faked-evidence-for.html

    Mobile
    techgeek. com.au/2011/08/20/report-apple-also-fake-evidence-in-dutch-lawsuit-shrinks-galaxy-s/

    They are so innovative these guys at Apple. They managed not only to invent a phone with touchscreen (even though Nokia made such phone a while ago) and invent a tablet, 10+ years after first tablet was manufactured. Very very impressive.
    Reply
  • appliance5000 - Sunday, August 28, 2011 - link

    While I think the Samsung lawsuit is absurd I don't think your diminishing of Apple is well thought out..

    You may be right about a Nokia design and tablet - heck fuji made lots of medical tablets - but obscure references are just that. Apple also had the newton if you want to engage in a battle of defunct devices.

    Prior to the iphone the palm trio was the smart phone paradigm. How many did you see around? The iphone touchscreen and interface changed the game entirely- as did it's design. It has driven the market since its introduction.

    Love it/hate it - it's the truth.
    Reply
  • Dr0id - Friday, August 19, 2011 - link

    I'm not sure that Samsung is the best purchaser for webOS, as they are already heavily invested in their Bada OS. Reply
  • cmmarcondes - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    I think that Samsung should buy WebOS and fuse it into Bada, in order to fix their OS...

    WebOS is the most elegant mobile OS that I've seen so far, and it would be a shame if it would perish so young...
    No guessing about PC division: it is too hermetic for me...
    Reply
  • Pirks - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    "WebOS is the most elegant mobile OS that I've seen so far"

    That's because you haven't seen Playbook :P
    Reply
  • vnangia - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    "That's because you haven't seen Playbook :P"

    Then you'd know the Playbook UI is a basically a ripoff of WebOS.
    Reply
  • n00bxqb - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    As someone who has owned both, webOS is WAY better than the Playbook's OS. It multitasks better, it's far less glitchy, and that's not even to mention the other features like automatic daily wireless backup to cloud, Synergy, etc. that the Playbook lacks.

    webOS >>>>>>>>> QNX on Playbook

    I am seriously, seriously pissed off at HP right now. I will never buy one of their products again.
    Reply
  • Pirks - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    Meanwhile, as trolls and n00bs keep trolling about Playbook, EA just launched Dead Space for Playbook.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGCoCZOi1AE

    Looks yummy!

    QNX can actually run art-heavy intensive games such as Dead Space while molasses slow WebOS is quickly forgotten cause it can't even browse web fast enough. What a shame :)))

    Ina couple of months no one will even troll about this joke of an OS called WebOS. Good riddance, HP.
    Reply

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